GREENVILLE – A bad first quarter and four turnovers led to the end of a historic Catawba Ridge Copperheads football season with a 42-27 loss to the Greenville Red Raiders Friday in the third round of the 4A playoffs.
Senior quarterback Tyler Fikis led the offense, but the Copperheads got behind early and struggled to catch up, despite keeping pace with the Red Raiders. Fikis went 15-for-31 for 206 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a score in rushing for 77 yards on 13 carries. Tyler Jones rushed for 50 yards on 14 carries. Brandon Raysor was the Copperheads leading receiver with five catches for 106 yards.
Catawba Ridge also struggled with four turnovers in the game, two of which led to Greenville touchdowns.
“These kids have no quit in them at all,” said Catawba Ridge head coach Zac Lendyak. “We made some mistakes we don’t normally make. We had our chances and came back. In the end it was too big of hole to climb out it.
The Copperheads finished the season with an 11-2 record, the most wins ever by a Fort Mill based football team.
This doesn’t take away from the season we had,” Lendyak said. “I am super proud of those guys. They created a legacy that is going to last for a long time.”
Greenville opened the fourth quarter clinging to a one score lead, but was able to drive the ball well into the red zone. The Red Raiders ate more than five minutes off the clock on the drive scoring on 15-yard touchdown pass with 7:51 left in the game. Greenville completed the 2-point conversion to take a 28-14 lead,
Catawba Ridge refused to go away as they came right back and scored with Fikis hitting Brady Ambrose for a 22-yard touchdown pass to again pull within one score. The drive was 68 yards on nine plays taking 1:50 off the clock.
On the Red Raiders next possession, they kept the ball on the ground and started to milk the clock trying to get the game over. The Copperheads defense came up big and forced Greenville to punt, but they pinned Catawba Ridge at the 6-yard line to start the drive. Fikis was then picked off on the first play of the drive giving Greenville the ball back at the 10-yard line. That led to a Red Raiders touchdown two plays later to go up 35-20 with 2:25 left.
Again, Catawba Ridge put together a stellar drive scoring on a 1-yard run by Fikis with about 40 seconds left in the game.
Catawba Ridge opened the second half playing from behind and moved the ball well as Jones and Ira Mister kept pounding the ball on the ground. The Copperheads got into the red zone but their drive ended with a fourth and four at the 11.
The Red Raiders couldn’t do anything on their first drive, and was forced to punt and Catawba Ridge returned the favor punting on their next series as well.
Both teams kept the ball on the ground a lot, which caused the clock to continue as the quarters seemed to fly by, Catawba Ridge made the most of their second series of the third quarter as they scored in four plays with Fikis hitting Raysor for a 63-yard touchdown to pull the Copperheads within one score with about 1:13 left in the quarter.
The Red Raiders opened the second quarter with the ball and started keeping it on the ground as they moved the ball picking up first downs and ticking time off the clock.
The Red Raiders picked up multiple first downs on the drive, which started at the Copperheads 5-yard line. The drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Greenville that took 9:33 off the clock on the drive as they went 13 plays.
The Copperheads responded with a long drive of their own to end the quarter. Fikis got Catawba Ridge into the red zone, but a third down sack by Greenville forced a fourth down. Fikis then found Miles Baucom for an 18-yard touchdown pass as the Copperheads got on the board with 27 seconds left in the half.
Time of possession was a big issue in the first half for Catawba Ridge as they only had the ball for 5:56, while Greenville had it for 18:44.
Catawba Ridge started the second quarter in unfamiliar territory down 14-0 after two first quarter turnovers, one of which led to a three-yard touchdown run by the Red Raiders,
Greenville scored on their second series of the game with a 34-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bryce Drummond.
Catawba Ridge fumbled at the 17-yard line on their next series which allowed the Red Raiders to score three plays later to take a two-score lead.
The Copperheads started to drive the ball well and cross midfield with runs from Jones and Fikis, but a Fikis interception gave the ball back to Greenville right before the end of the first quarter.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep